Men would rather marry their female assistants than equal-ranking women or their supervisors, according to social psychologists.

The results are based on a study of men’s ratings of imaginary women with different job titles, during which they judged them according to their appeal as a one-night stand, friend, or long-term partner.

Men’s preferences for less-dominant women may be rooted in evolution, the researchers suggest.

“Males who preferred to mate with relatively subordinate partners – as opposed to higher dominance partners – may have been better able to limit the chance – or amount – of paternal uncertainty, either by preventing their partner from having sex outside of the partnership or by being able to closely monitor their partner’s sexual behavior for possible infidelity,” write Stephanie L. Brown and Brian P. Lewis.

Brown is based at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Lewis at the University of California in Los Angeles.

Previous investigations into what type of mate men and women prefer have defined dominance in different ways. Some studies, for instance, have described dominance by personality – such as aggressiveness – or by possession of desirable resources, such as status, fame or fortune.

More here.